Saturday, July 13, 2013

WAWeekend: Seattle’s Summer Sizzlers

“Oh yes, we ‘know’ Seattle.  We went to its market. . .Pike Place Market!”

Time and again we meet people on our travels who place our world by recalling a visit they’ve made to Seattle’s iconic public market. There was a time we used to regularly beat a path to the market when we found ourselves in the Emerald City.

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We live so close to Seattle now that like other of its destinations, we go there when the occasional out-of-town visitor comes along.

That is until this week when one of Seattle’s glorious sunny days and a freelance article I am working on, lured me back to this century-old market with post-card perfect views overlooking Elliott Bay.

I decided to stop at a few of my old favorites and seek out at least a couple new spots to tell you about this weekend.

Seattle 019Let’s start under the Market Clock (erected during the Great Depression) at ‘Rachel’, the piggy-bank  (donations go to the Market Foundation)brings out the photographer in all visitors:

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Rachel is right in front of the boys who throw the fish when making sales, so you have to watch that show again, even though you know what’s coming and now matter how often you've seen it before:

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Note:  this area is congested with crowds waiting to see the antics of the sales staff – I had to muscle my way through the throngs to get to the stairway nearby (and kept my purse clutched tightly to my chest. . .just in case there were some among them more interested in my belongings than the fish show).

The Gum Wall:  Egad, how I had never visited this place, on Lower Post Alley (almost under the fish company) before? Now that I have, I probably don’t need to return. This, is as its name implies is a wall of gum, chewed gum to be exact, that seemed to draw as many photographers as those shooting out over the bay.  Not to  miss ‘a photo opp’:

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The Urban Garden:  This was also an area new to me but it’s also new to the Market.  And a pleasant contrast to the Gum Wall almost below it.  This raised bed garden – the first seeds planted in April this year --  will provide fresh produce to low-income residents who live in and around the Market and who visit the Pike Market Food Bank and Senior Center:

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From the garden I had one of the best views ever of Seattle’s Giant Wheel that opened in Summer 2012 at Pier 57:

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If you are like me, the real draw of Pike Place Market continues to be the longtime food and flower vendors (Sadly, it seemed a number of the produce and flower stands that once lined the main corridor have been replaced by souvenir and gift stands – hopefully it is because the harvest season isn’t yet in full swing):

PicMonkey Collage

That’s it for this weekend’s WAWeekend, when we visit close to home in Washington State.  If you are heading to Seattle, put this Market on your must-see list. It is open year-round.

If You Go:

For the latest information on Market operating hours, how to sign up for guided tours, and the latest happenings, visit the Market website:

Note:  In the summer ,the market by mid-day is usually crowded. It is a popular stop for cruise ship passengers – three ships were in port on the Friday I visited, not to mention the land-based tourists. Plan your visit accordingly.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

“Gorging” Ourselves in Greece’s Mani

We’d set out one morning during our stay in the small town of Kardamili to explore the surrounding countryside in this part of the Peloponnese known as the ‘Outer Mani’ .

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The two-lane paved road twisted its way through olive groves and wild flower bouquets up the hillside toward the peak of Mt. Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias). The mountain with an elevation of 7,897-ft (2,407-meters) is the highest mountain in the Taygetus range. The towering mountain is visible from miles away.

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What we didn’t realize when we started out is that we were headed to Exohori, the small hamlet that serves as a gateway to Viros Gorge (Gorge Virou), a stunning deep river gorge that runs  from the foot of Mt. Profitis Ilias to Kardamili (Kardamyli).

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While the morning’s light cloud cover obscured the mountain’s peak, it highlighted the contours that make up  this popular hiking area.

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The  map pictured to the left was posted at the beginning of the gorge trail showing just how many different directions you could explore. . .if you had  hiking boots (which we hadn’t).

So we set out on the wide gravel road to at least get a taste of hiking the gorge:

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As we walked we couldn’t but think of the history held in the heart of these mountains. The name Taugetus or Taygetos is one of the oldest recorded in Europe (it is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey).

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The trail beckoned us to walk just a bit further, then a bit further,  amid scenery that was a feast for the soul.

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However, on the off chance anyone was walking along and was too dense to recognize their breathtaking surroundings. . .someone had erected a sign in Greek and English – which made us laugh - to help them take note:

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If You Go:

Taygetos Location Map

The nearest airport is at Kalamata, Greece about 40 kilometers away, (click the link provided).

For accommodations, there is one hotel in Exohori, Hotel Faraggi that overlooks the gorge and it has rave reviews on Trip Advisor and The gorge views from its balcony are unbelievable! (It can be seen on the left cliff in the second to last photo.) 

A larger selection of restaurants and tavernas are found in ocean side Kardamyli  (click the link provided).

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Nancie at  Budget Travelers Sandbox and Noel's Travel Photo Discovery which appears Mondays.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Christmas in July

We meet some of the most interesting people when we travel.

Many times, it is while sitting at a bar during Happy Hour.  Like that evening in Hawaii . . .

 VegasHawaii2012 309Doug and Carla Scott, were sitting a couple bar stools away from us one evening at  Chuck’s Restaurant on the Ko Olina property on the western shores of O’ahu, Hawaii. 

While sipping our Happy Hour Mai Tai’s, I overheard Doug  tell someone they were sailing to Fiji.

Because we are heading that way ourselves this fall, I asked about the cruise line they’d be taking.

Silly me!  These people are sailing themselves to Fiji.

As is the case when strangers, who share a passion for travel meet, the conversation continued long past Happy Hour.

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Doug and Carla Scott
These two nautical vagabonds met and married in Oregon. In fact, the first time they sailed together was on the Columbia River. Then their work lives took them to landlocked Albuquerque, New Mexico for the next 18 years.

Leaving the Conventional Life Behind

Just as we decided to jump ship and leave the conventional world behind for our Mexico adventure and subsequent life of travel, you might say they jumped to a ship and left  the conventional world behind.

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They didn't shake their sailing 'bug' in the high desert and by 1988 were researching sailboats; they also had decided to sell  ‘almost everything’ and buy one.  In 2000 they found Moondance, a blue water cruiser for two, (pictured above) had her shipped to California and lived aboard her for eight years getting ready to begin the life of cruisers.

After leaving San Francisco in 2008, they spent a year and a half sailing around the Sea of Cortez and by February 2011 were in Banderas Bay on Mexico’s west coast preparing for the Puddle Jump to French Polynesia.


In April 2011 they spent 22 days sailing to the South Pacific; they spent seven months there exploring Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands, Moorea, Huahine, and Bora Bora. The photo above was taken at Tuamotus Bay.

VegasHawaii2012 159They arrived at the Ko Olina Marina in January 2012 and decided to make it home for the next year and a half. 

Our chance Mai Tai encounter happened at the end of their stay, just as they were beginning preparations to head out again for the South Pacific.

The four of us planned to continue our conversation while we were all at Ko Olina  (we were at our Marriott timeshare home) but never quite managed to get in more than a brief chat . . .usually during that popular Chuck’s Happy Hour.

But we’ve stayed in touch and are now following Doug and Carla as they are sailing to the South Pacific.

They’ve sailed 1,200 miles from Hawaii to Fanning Island and on July 4th arrived at Christmas Island, both part of the Republic of Kiribati  made up of  33 islands spread over 2,400 miles.

If their story has sparked your wanderlust, check out their blog, by clicking this link:  Following Moondance for their tales of the South Pacific.

That’s it for Travel Tuesday the day we feature either tips or tales about people and places! If it is your first visit, we hope to have you return soon. And to our many regulars – thanks so much for continuing to travel with us!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

WAWeekend: From ‘Blogosphere’ to Mt. Baker

Would you believe it took a Canadian, who lives in South Korea to get me to Mt. Baker, in northern Washington State for the first time in my life?

Washington, the place I’ve lived my entire life, I might add.

And, I have the blogosphere to thank for planting the seed some two years ago that made this trip happen.

Regular readers know that each week TravelnWrite is a part of Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox, a blog created by Nancie McKinnon, an educator from Halifax who teaches at a South Korean university. 

Over the year’s Nancie and I have gotten to know each other in the usual blogosphere way; reading posts, making comments,responding to comments and writing occasional emails.

Out of the blogosphere. . .

Nancie, two weeks ago, was en route  to Halifax and made  a stop in Vancouver, B.C. to visit a friend. She suggested we meet somewhere during that stopover. Turns out her friend, Sue, has a vacation retreat at The Glen at Maple Falls, Washington. Nancie further suggested we meet there.

“Sure!” I replied, thinking, “Where in the world is Maple Falls?” Grabbing the map, I found it right at the foot of Mt. Baker.

The day we met was one of those dreary, gray days for which this Evergreen State is known. Intermittent rain, and gray clouds provided the less-than-scenic backdrop as I headed north. 

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My journey took me over the new temporary bridge span on Interstate 5 (part of the permanent bridge fell into the river after an over-sized truck hit the railing last month).

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Then east on Highway 20 to Highway 9 (pictured above).

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Past beautiful meadows, pastureland, and forested hillsides. Well, they would have been really beautiful had the fog and clouds not dulled their emerald sparkle. I traveled through little hamlets named Acme, Clipper and Van Zandt – each calling out for a longer look on a future trip.

Summer2013 004Highway 9 led to the Mt. Baker Highway and a couple miles  more I found myself at The Glen, a gated recreational development near the Nooksack River.

It took about 10 seconds, the length of time it took me to get out of the car, for these two blogosphere friends to fall into easy conversation; it was as if we’d known each other for years.

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In a way, we have known each other for years – thanks to our blogs which have allowed us to follow the other’s life events and travels. (I have to tell you that for two people who are usually behind the camera, posing for that photo above had us howling with laughter at our discomfort as Sue patiently took photos of us.)

The only disappointing part of the day was that the cloud cover never allowed me even a peek at Mt. Baker, that majestic 10,781 ft.(3,286 m) peak, the third-highest mountain in Washington State and the fifth-highest in the Cascade Range.

But thanks to the courtesy of the USGS for allowing use of that first photo and Nancie, who sent one she took of the mountain a few days after my visit, I can show you one place in the state that you really should visit – especially on a sunny day!


If You Go:
The Mt. Baker area is about a two – three hour drive north of Seattle (depending on your destination). It took two hours to drive from Kirkland to The Glen, just under 100 miles in distance.

It is about an hour from Surrey, British Columbia, which is just outside Vancouver.

Mt. Baker National Forest information:
The Glen at Maple Falls information:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Red, White and Blue Road Trip

Happy Birthday America!

While citizens and cities drape themselves in our patriotic colors on the Fourth of July – our holiday commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776  – we decided to take ourselves on an armchair Red, White and Blue road trip through America’s West:

Our trip begins  in Seattle, Washington, where sometimes that old song, “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. . .” holds true. On sunny days, Elliott Bay, on which Seattle is located,  is pretty blue as well:

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Heading east across  Washington, we’ll spend a bit of time in Spokane, where red brick buildings stand tall against a blue sky backdrop.

A walk through the town’s historic district is a glimpse back at a segment of state history.

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WARoadTrip2012 097From there, we’ll go south through Washington’s wheat fields and agricultural lands. Our route takes us through countless small towns like, Rosalia, population about 600.

White clouds flit across those Eastern Washington blue skies providing a backdrop to its mid-century architecture, like the gas station below.

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WARoadTrip2012 127Then we cross the border into Oregon State – our destination  to Wallawa Lake and more hues of white and blue.

Just down the road a splash of red, white and blue wrapped history in the town Wallowa, population 807:

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To the west a bit further, near Pendleton, Oregon, we are under those blue skies and white cotton-candy-like cloud formations:

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Then south into the  state of Nevada , our route awash with blue and white –

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Entering Arizona we see on the horizon a splash of red as the spectacular Vermillion Cliffs Monument area expands before us:

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An even more brilliant red is found in the Navajo Tribe’s woven rugs. Artisans continue the tradition of their Native American ancestors as they blend color and design in these works of art. (These were for sale at a roadside restaurant in Northern Arizona.)

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Our road trip ends  in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun where even the dessert blooms add to our patriotic palette of colors:

PicMonkey Collage

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That’s it for this Travel Photo Thursday and for Travel Photo Mondays.  To all of you celebrating the Fourth of July, we hope your day is filled with family and friends and decked out in red, white and blue.

Travel Photo Thursday is at Budget Travelers Sandbox, hosted by Nancie McKinnon, and Travel Photo Monday is  at Travel Photo Discovery created by Noel Morata.

Hope to see you back again for Travel Tuesdays and our WAWeekend (that stands for WAshington)  featuring in-state destinations. If you've not yet become a follower or subscriber, hope you'll do so today!

The Western United States:

Map picture

Note: This armchair road trip combines photos from three road trips we have taken through the West.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Remembering Prescott, Arizona

Travel makes the world smaller. It turns places on a map into people; their kindness and your experiences remembered long after the trip has ended.

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Prescott’s Courthouse Square – gathering place for families and friends

For that reason, our hearts today are back in Prescott, Arizona.  Our travels have taken us to this warm and welcoming town three times in the last two years.  Prescott is a vibrant college town draped in old west history about an hour and a half north of Phoenix.

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By now, you’ve probably heard of it. Prescott has been in both national and international headlines the last two days because the community is mourning the deaths of 19 firefighters based here – 14 of whom were in their 20’s. They were highly trained members of an elite team, known as  “Hotshots” and were killed on Sunday while battling a blaze that today continues to defy efforts to contain it.

So on this Travel Tuesday we want to pay tribute to this wonderful town, while joining with countless others who are sending prayers and condolences to the entire community.

Prescott captures you with its old west hospitality.  No matter who you meet there or why, there’s a warm feeling about the memory of that encounter. 

AZroadtrip2012 113For example, one evening last December we paused to look at the menu posted at a café near the Square. We chatted with the owner briefly, saying we’d already eaten.

The next morning though we returned and she called out, “Oh, it’s good to see you two again! Glad you came back for breakfast!!” (It was a hearty plate of Huevos Rancheros we were served, I might add.)

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It is a town that normally this time of year is focused on its July 4th rodeo.  They’ve held one here every year for more than 125 years.  This monument to rodeo riders is outside its City Hall. 

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The town’s filled with public art that is  touching and whimsical – you never know what you might discover when strolling its sidewalks or entering a store.

These two were inside a small mall, and we found the delightful fellow below guess where?

Outside the public library!

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You might recall a post I wrote about Prescott last December when I declared it PC: Pure Christmas!  Prescott is Arizona’s self-proclaimed Christmas City and we believed them after watching one of several Christmas parades they have each December!

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What really struck us was the ‘neighborliness’ of the townsfolk. Although a vibrant, growing community there still exists a small town feel; the kind where neighbors know each other – they celebrate the good times and help each other through the bad. 

Arizona2012pt1 064And that may be what helps this town get through the coming days.

How You Can Help:
A Facebook page has been created honoring the firefighters. Click the link and ‘like’ the page.
NBC News Los Angeles reported on several ways to donate to funds for the firefighters’ families. Click the link for article.
Huffington Post has also listed ways to donate. Click the link.


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